Martin Scorsese has completed his screenplay for the film about Jesus he first teased in May, the director told Los Angeles Times in a story that published Monday. Scorsese said his project will film later this year and is expected to be only 80 minutes long.

“I’m trying to find a new way to make it more accessible and take away the negative onus of what has been associated with organized religion,” Scorsese said. The film does not yet appear to have a distributor.

Scorsese co-wrote the new project with critic and filmmaker Kent Jones. It is based on Shūsaku Endō’s book A Life of Jesus — Endo also wrote Silence, which Scorsese adapted for the screen in 2016 with actors Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson.

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“I responded to the Pope’s appeal to artists the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus,” Scorsese told the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica (The Catholic Civilization) last May.

Should Scorsese’s 80-minute prediction prove true, the new film could be his shortest ever (Killers of a Flower Moon, released last November and now heading into the Oscars race, clocked in at an impressive 206 minutes).

The Jesus film will take place mostly in present day and focus on the principles of Jesus’ core teachings rather than a specific religious doctrine.

“Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways,” Scorsese said. “But that doesn’t mean necessarily that the initial impulse was wrong. Let’s get back. Let’s just think about it. You may reject it. But it might make a difference in how you live your life — even in rejecting it. Don’t dismiss it offhand. That’s all I’m talking about. And I’m saying that as a person who’s going to be 81 in a couple of days.”

For Scorsese, the project is a cumulation of what many of his films have pursued throughout his career.

“I tried finding it with Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ, even Gangs of New York, to a certain extent, ways into redemption and the human condition and how we deal with the negative things inside us,” he said. “Are we decent and then learn to become indecent? Can we change? Will others accept that change? And it really is, I think, a fear of society and culture that’s corrupted because of its lack of grounding in morality and spirituality. Not religion. Spirituality. Denying that.”

He continued, “It’s finding my own way in a … if you want to say the term ‘religious’ sense, but I hate to use that language, because it’s misinterpreted often. But there’s a basic fundamental beliefs that I have — or I’m trying to have — and I’m using these films to find it.”

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